McGillivray, a Merrimack alum, takes over two-day running event at his alma mater

NORTH ANDOVER — Last summer’s Runner’s World Classic at Merrimack College was a huge success. At least, that’s what long-time race director Dave McGillivray surmised after seeing thousands of people out for the inaugural three-day event, which included Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman running his first-ever road race, The Celebrity Mile.

Despite the event’s “success,” the Classic’s future was thrown into jeopardy when Runner’s World decided to pull out of sponsoring a second event following some changes in upper management. 

That left McGillivray, the event’s organizer and longtime Boston Marathon race director, with a difficult choice.

“We were left with the decision of whether to continue or let it go,” McGillivray said. 

If anyone knows McGillivray, they know the answer.

“Because it seemed that all the responses were really positive and people liked it,” said McGillivray, “we decided to continue with it.”

It’s a financial risk for the North Andover resident, but one he believes will pay off big. Now known as the DMSE Sports Classic, the two-day running festival will return for its second year later this month, and McGillivray is betting that it will be as big a success as last year’s Classic, if not bigger.

The Classic will run from July 22-23 and feature a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon, all of which will be held in the morning and will start and finish on the Merrimack campus. The popular “Celebrity Mile” will also return, as will the Fuddrucker’s Kid’s Fun Run and Activity Zone. And per the norm for McGillivray events, there will be food, drinks, music and other entertainment for people of all ages.

“The idea is to have it be a weekend festival, where you can come and run,” McGillivray said. “There are three major events, you can do just the 5K, just the 10K, or just the half, or you can do two or all three. There’s something there to challenge anyone and everyone.”

The trio of races was inspired partly by Disney’s group of races in Orlando, known as the “Goofy” and “Dopey” Challenges, in which participants earn recognition for completing each event, or multiple ones.

In that same vein, those who complete each race at the DMSE Sports Classic will receive a medal, those who complete the 5K and 10K races earn a “Five & Dime” medal, and those who complete all three earn a “Hat Trick” medal.

“So if you do all three races you get five medals,” McGillivray said.

McGillivray said the event is something of a throwback for his company, which originally owned all of the events it ran before restructuring roughly 20 years ago to focus more on running other people’s events. It was also a way for him to revive the Celebrity Mile, which he created back when his company was based in Medford but had to end when they relocated, while also giving him an opportunity to get involved with Merrimack, his alma mater.

“Doing it on the campus of Merrimack is special to me because it’s my alma mater and there are other things I want to do with the college down the road,” McGillivray said. “So this was a great way to reengage with the college.”

McGillivray said he doesn’t plan on making a habit of owning any other events, saying he instead expects to focus on this one while continuing to manage other races like his company has always done.

That being said, this event holds a special place in his heart, and he’s hopeful it will continue to be successful and go on for many years to come.

“Hopefully it will be as successful and we can continue, but it’s a business too and you have to be sure the bills are paid and we’re all about quality, so we want to make sure we have the resources to always put on high-quality events,” McGillivray said. “So we’ll see how it goes this year and assess and decide what the future holds.”

To register for the DMSE Sports Classic, go to www.dmsesports.com

Race Dates & Times
Saturday, July 22

  • 5K: 7 a.m.

  • 10K: 8:30 a.m.

  • Kid’s Fun Run: 10 a.m.

  • - 1/4 mile: Ages 5 and under

  • - 1/2 mile: Ages 6 to 8

  • - 1 mile: Ages 9 to 12

  • Celebrity Mile: 11 a.m.

Sunday, July 23

  • Half Marathon: 7 a.m.

Registration Fees

  • Hat Trick (5K, 10K and half): $170

  • Five & Dime (5K and 10K): $85

  • Half Marathon: $90

  • 10K: $50

  • 5K: $40

  • Kid’s Fun Run: $10


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